Fat impact on diabetes

How fat and the different types of fat impact obesity and diabetes.

Carbohydrates usually come to mind when one is talking about reducing the risk of diabetes, but fat is also an important nutrient consider. Compared to carbohydrates and protein which both have four calories per gram, fat has nine calories per gram. That means fat has more than twice the amount of calories in the same amount that a carbohydrate or protein have combined.

When trying to lose weight and/or reduce the risk of diabetes, Michigan State University Extension experts say it is worthwhile to address all food sources in your diet, not just carbohydrates or “sugar.” Eating too much fat also increases the amount of fat and cholesterol in your blood, which increases your risk for heart attack and stroke. This is especially important for people at risk for diabetes because they have a greater risk of developing heart disease and circulation problems.

Dietary fat does not have an immediate effect on blood sugar levels, but consuming a meal high in fat can slow digestion and make it more difficult for insulin to work correctly. Insulin is a hormone made in the pancreas which helps move the glucose from the food that you eat into the cells of the body to be used as energy.

Many studies show that obesity (in particular, abdominal obesity), physical inactivity, a high-fat diet and a diet rich in saturated fatty acids can increase the risk of diabetes. Controlling fat intake is one of many steps we can take towards creating a healthier lifestyle.

We still need fat to absorb vitamins, provide energy and flavor to our food; but most people are consuming too much of the wrong types of fat.

The different types of fat include:

Saturated fat or “bad” fat is solid at room temperature, comes mostly from animal products and causes the body to make cholesterol and increase risk of heart disease.

Trans fatty acids are caused by hydrogenating vegetable oils, which make food products more shelf stable. Trans fats are worse for you than saturated fat because they raise the LDL (bad) levels and lower HDL (good) blood levels.

Unsaturated fat or “good” fats are liquid at room temperature and found mostly in plant oils. Unsaturated fats can actually improve blood cholesterol levels. There are two types of unsaturated fats:

  1. Monounsaturated fats are found in olive oil, canola oil, avocados, nuts and seeds.
  2. Polyunsaturated fats are found in sunflower, corn, soybean and flaxseed oils, walnuts, flaxseeds, fish and canola oil.

To cut back on fat intake make sure your diet is rich in fruits and vegetables, whole grains, low-fat dairy products and foods that contain healthy fats.

To find more information on fats and healthy diets visit: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/pages/search_results?query=high+fat+diet

For diabetes and chronic disease management topics, help and information visit: http://msue.anr.msu.edu/topic/info/food_health

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